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BIOL124 - Human Body in Health and Disease 1 OR BIOL125 Human Biology 1

Unit rationale, description and aim

A thorough understanding of the nervous system is essential to those contemplating a career in biomedical sciences. The aim of this unit is to develop students’ understanding of the structure and function of the nervous system, including the role of the nervous system in emotion, behaviour and selected disorders. Students will learn the basic structure and function of the nervous system including an introduction to the organisation of the human brain and spinal cord at molecular, cellular, organ, and organ system levels. Essential concepts in neuroscience, such as neuronal signal transduction, interneural, sensory perception, motor control, memory, mental health, and addiction will also be covered.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe the structure and function of the human nervous systemGC1, GC2, GC8
LO2Discuss the physiological processes involved in sensory and motor functions of the central and peripheral nervous systemsGC1, GC2, GC8
LO3Apply the mechanisms of higher brain function, including learning, memory, and language, to both physiological and pathological contextsGC1, GC2, GC8
LO4Explain the neurobiology that underlies addictive behaviour and other mental health conditionsGC1, GC2, GC7, GC8, GC9


Topics will include:

  • Overview of the structure and function of the nervous system
  • Structure and function of key areas of the brain, brainstem, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system
  • Structure and function of neuronal cells
  • Signal transduction and communication between neurons
  • The somatosensory system (including sensory receptors, sensory ascending tracts, and related cortical areas)
  • Selected special senses (e.g., vision, hearing, taste and balance)
  • Function of the cerebral cortex, cerebellum and basal nuclei in motor control, posture and balance; including as well as motor disorders
  • Higher brain functions: learning, memory and language including their pathologies
  • Addiction, personality and mood disorders, and other disorders of the human central nervous system

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit uses an active learning approach because this approach best supports students in their development of an integrated understanding of nervous system structure and function.

Active participation and questioning of content is encouraged during the lectures, which assist students to understand how the nervous systems works. The practical classes reinforce key concepts first introduced in lectures and offer additional opportunities to engage with the learning material.

In addition to the formal classes, this unit further supports student learning by providing online material through Canvas, which includes formative quizzes, links to relevant external resources and additional learning activities.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy is designed to assist students to reach their learning objectives in a stepwise fashion so they are encouraged to work consistently through semester. Students are provided with early feedback so that they can seek assistance if required. No single assessment is so large that a poor performance in it precludes the possibility of passing the unit. There are a variety of assessment types which enhance attainment of the learning outcomes.

In order to successfully complete this unit, students must obtain an aggregate mark of equal to or greater than 50%.

The first assessment (Quiz 1A) is an online quiz, which is of low weighting, open book, and assesses only the first few weeks of material. Feedback is provided quickly, allowing students to gauge their progress and to seek assistance if needed. The second quiz (Quiz 1B) builds on this and has higher weighting because it covers more content. Both quizzes provide in-semester feedback as to the progression of the students’ understanding and ability to apply key concepts of the unit.

The written assessment requires students to produce a piece of academic writing that showcases their developing critical thinking skills. Students need to integrate information from various topics covered in the semester. The written assessment task requires students to thoroughly engage with the learning material. Because students are given several weeks to investigate the topics being questioned.

The final assessment task is the end-of-semester examination, which assesses integration and application of key concepts covered in this unit.

Students also receive feedback through formative assessments throughout the semester, including  topic feedback quizzes and practice short-answer questions

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes


Quiz 1A: Online quiz – The online quiz enables students to gauge their progress early in semester.

Quiz 1B: enables students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the systems covered at the time of assessment



LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Written assessment

This tasks enables students to apply knowledge learnt in classes and engage with selected, more challenging concepts.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

End-semester examination:

This task enables students to showcase their critical thinking skills and demonstrate their understanding of basic principles in neuroscience.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Garrett, B. & Hough, G. (2021). Brain & Behavior: An Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience (6th Ed.).  SAGE Publications, Inc.

Kandel, E. R., Koester, J.D., Mack, S. H. & Siegelbaum, S. A. (2021). Principles of neural science (6th Ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill, Health Professions Division.

Mtui, E., Gruener, G. & Dockery, P. (2021). Clinical neuroanatomy and neuroscience (8th Ed.). Edinburgh: Elsevier Saunders.

Purves, D., Augustine, G.J., Fitzpatrick D., Hall, W.C., LaMantia, A.S., Mooney, R., Platt, M. & White L (2018). Neuroscience (6th Ed.) Oxford University Press.

Schmidt, R.A. & Lee, T. (2020). Motor learning and performance: from principles to application (6th Ed.). Champaign: Human Kinetics, Inc.

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